Beef Chitarnee

Beef Chitarnee, by Molly Moses
Adapted from Monday Morning Cooking Club: The Food, The Stories, The Sisterhood

Chitarnee, a sweet and sour dish with onion sauce, is a dish unique to the Baghdadi Indian community. Whenever she was able, my mother made sure to cook this for us on Friday night, as it was the one day of the week we were able to buy meat or chicken, a rare luxury in those days. The sheer quantity of onions ensures that the dish is imbued with a rich sweetness, which is balanced by the sharp burst of vinegar thrown in at the end, making this dish quite unique.

2 1/4 lbs. blade or chuck steak
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 lbs. onions, finely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 lb. ripe tomatoes, chopped
5 oz. tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup brown vinegar
6 fresh curry leaves
2 1/4 lbs. desiree or pontiac (or other, ideally red-skin) potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cut the beef into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions, red pepper, and salt on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the onions are golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes, stirring.

Serves 4–6

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Turmeric-roasted potatoes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Boil the potatoes and turmeric in salted water for 5 minutes, then drain off the water. Cover with the lid and shake the potatoes vigorously to rough the surfaces a little. Put the potatoes in a greased baking dish. Heat the oil in the oven in a heatproof jug for 5 minutes, then pour it over the potatoes. Bake for 40 minutes, tossing the potatoes occasionally, until crisp and golden. Sprinkle with salt.

Add the meat and all the spices and brown the meat well. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Stir through the sugar, vinegar, and curry leaves and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve with turmeric-roasted potatoes.

Serves 4-6

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